Look, I get it. It’s a convenient conversation starter to make with someone who has lots of daughters. But if you want to know the truth, I do not worry about their weddings, and here’s why.
Outside, though, the lemon tree continues its predictable pattern of growing beautiful yellow lemons year after year. To me, their predictability is both comforting and bittersweet. When all else is changing, the fruit trees remain the same—dutifully growing, changing, and repeating the pattern year after year.
At 40, it feels like anything is possible, though there’s also an urgency to do the things I want right now. And I guess that’s what I never understood about a midlife crisis until now: it’s not a crisis at all, but an awakening to the urgency of living the life you want and doing what makes you happy, right now.
“Am I going to be okay, Mom?” My daughter asked quietly as she lie on an ER gurney. It was midnight, and we had been there for hours. She’d had bloodwork, IV meds, and IV fluids.
Everyone has before-and-afters in life. Little did I know, in spring of 2014, my life would be defined by two before-and-afters that occurred in the span of one month.
We were intimately in tune with each other's struggles and victories, both the big ones and the small ones. And so, during those years, we carried each other through the best and worst of things.
Every time we travel with our six kids, I have this moment of panic where I ask myself:
What have we done?! What WERE we thinking? Why did we come to the beach/the zoo/Grandma’s house/Disney? We’re never traveling again.
I wondered: had I asked too much of her and her sisters? Did I expect her to be bigger than she was? Did I miss things because I was busy with the babies? Did I miss her being a baby?
I stared at the little bug on my phone screen. It couldn’t be, could it? But it was. . . . There was no denying it: I had lice. Or, at minimum, I had a louse. [Insert every-single-curse-word here.]
“But then I don’t get her feet or legs!” shouted my four-year-old to my eight-year-old. I had been reduced to body parts by my children. Pieces of myself for my kids to fight over.
It may have taken almost two years, but I can now say it is no longer surreal. What’s more surprising is that there was ever a time when they were NOT part of our family, like all my older girls too. Now, I think to myself: of course you’re here. You were meant to be here all along, just like your big sisters.
Every time I open the freezer drawer, I see a bag of frozen breastmilk staring at me. It has been waiting patiently for me to acknowledge it for months now. But I don’t. I usually just push it deeper into the drawer as I dig around for popsicles or pizza for the kids. Day after day, I see it there, and yet I cannot do the simple thing I know I need to do: throw it away.
Entering our seventh week of summer, I’ve hit the wall. The summer wall. You know how when you are running a marathon, and around mile 21 or so you hit a wall of fatigue (or so I'm told) and you feel like you cannot run one more step?
As a parent, it's really easy to get caught up in thinking "it will get easier when . . ." I know this because I do it a lot. I think "oh, it'll be so much easier when they're not in diapers." Or, "it'll be so much quicker when they can walk to the car themselves."
Here's my (not remotely) modest proposal for my dream parents-only year-end party.
With time and distance, I felt myself appreciating the full spectrum of emotions that came with my experience of having a high risk pregnancy and preemie babies. Thinking about how easily we could’ve had a different outcome. Thinking about how grateful we were to have our three girls. Thinking about my sister. Thinking about Elise.
But I’ve started noticing something about these appointments. None of them are for me. It is almost as if I’ve forgotten that I’m important too. Because here’s the thing—when you have small kids, you sometimes forget to take the time to see your own needs. It’s not a conscious decision; the days are just so full and unpredictable.